Who can resist the allure of a Sexy Villain? Whether in movies or books, there’s something so delightfully wrong about a bad guy you can’t quite manage to hate.
Except for the fact that they are, actually, the villain. They hurt and maim people. They’re selfish and egotistical, and they lack the ability to care about others. Which is pretty unsexy.
I think this happens when the MC is either really fucking boring (Hi, movie Thor!) or is sexually attracted to the villain because the writer wanted to add some tension.
With the first one, I have noticed that it’s more obvious in movies than in books, though it certainly exist there too. Some writers have a harder time fleshing out the hero; it’s like they have to be Perfect with only a couple of minor flaws. But that only makes them harder to identify with. In the comic books, Thor has more personality (no, really!), but it seems to have evaporated in the movies in favour of rock hard abs*. Abs are fine and dandy, but I’ll take depth of personality any day.
A secondary version of this type is that the writers go too far with the flaws, making the MC harder to like, while the villain is easier to relate to. I’ve seen this one more often in ‘chick lit’, where the female MC spends all their time fretting over life, rather than owning her choices. The ‘bad boy’ she shouldn’t chose at least generally has his shit together, at least in comparison to the MC.
For the sexual tension between MC and villain, it can be a very tricky road to go down. I remember reading about how LKH originally planned to have her MC Anita Blake to kill off Jean-Claude, but by the time the writer got to that book, she just couldn’t do it. She then had to create more backstory to validate keeping him ‘alive’; not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely more work!
So unless you don’t mind the villain sticking around and taking over the whole story, be careful about making them sexy!
*Why yes, I do have some issues with the Thor movies, why do you ask? 🙂